"Originally launched in 1999, it's a testament to the design and engineering that the Audi TT is still the ‘must have’ small coupe. It's as good to drive as it is to look at!"
Even though it's been around since 2006, the second-generation Audi TT remains a a beautiful piece of design. And it still drives really well, too. Available as both a coupe and a Roadster convertible, Audi's small sports car is hardly the most practical on the road, but few cars can match its blend of prestige, quality and comfort. Equipped with Audi's 2.0 TDI diesel engine, it's also relatively cheap to run for a car with this level of performance and driving thrills. But for real excitement and performance, the range-topping TT RS offers supercar-matching acceleration that is truly exhilarating. The Audi TT comes in three main specifications – entry-level Sport, mid-range S line and top-of-the-range Black Edition.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
After spending a pretty penny to get a TT, if fuel economy and CO2 emissions are still important to you, the sensible choice is the 168bhp 2.0 TDI diesel, which offers decent performance but still manages to return 53.3mpg and emit 139g/km, which means road tax is relatively cheap (£110) for a car of this type. If you don’t regularly rack up the miles on lots of long-distance commutes, then even the excellent entry-level 1.8 TFSI petrol engine, which can accelerate from 0-62mph in a decent 7.2 seconds, is capable of returning 44.1mpg and should prove a sound investment. However, avoid the TT S and TT RS models if running costs are anything of an issue.
Interior & comfort
It may be a sports car, but that doesn’t mean that the TT isn’t comfortable – it's a very relaxing and calm car to drive. Admittedly, if you choose the sportier TT S and TT RS models, which come fitted with bigger wheels, the TT can feel unsettled and shaky when driven over rough surfaces at low speeds. You can specify to have Audi's effective Magnetic Ride adaptive suspension system installed, though, which swaps between a more comfortable, softer-feeling ride and a firmer, driver-focused one at the press of a button. There's also more room both in the front and the back for passengers than in the original generation of the TT.
Practicality & boot space
The Audi TT is about style, not practicality, so it should come as no surprise that it won’t win any prizes for being a practical car. However, it's actually more spacious than you think, especially in the front. The back seats, however, are as cramped as you’d expect, with virtually no leg or headroom for adults and even smaller children are unlikely to keep claustrophobia at bay on long journeys. The boot offers a decent 290 litres of space with the back seats in place, which expands to 700 litres when the split-folding rear seats are folded down flat, which is a better use of the rear seat space. The boot opening is large and easy to load through. Up front, the TT's interior is surprisingly roomy for two, which further makes for the case for just considering the TT a two-seater, while there's a decent-sized glove compartment and a few storage cubbies and pockets dotted around the interior.
Reliability & safety
The Audi TT has taken a bit of a tumble in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Back in 2010 it ranked 19th in the top 100 cars lists, but by 2012 it had slumped to 50 and in 2013 it dropped another 46 places down to 96. Poor reliability and build quality are apparently responsible, which is unusual for a German premium manufacturer. Audi itself, meanwhile, has actually climbed up five spots in the manufacturers ranking, to re-enter the top 10, so it may simply be a sign of the TT's age – it launched in 2006 – more than anything else, as industry standards and technology improve across the board. All of that said, there have been no major reliability problems reported with the TT, as with most Audis. The TT has been subject to three official VOSA recalls involving automatic gearboxes and electrical glitches. Each recall affected relatively few cars, but did involve concerns over stability and braking performance. In terms of safety, the TT comes fitted with electronic stability control, front and side airbags, active head restraints and ISOFIX child seat anchor points as standard. There's lots of optional safety equipment available for extra money, including tyre pressure monitoring. The TT received the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests.
Engines, drive & performance
You’ll certainly get your money's worth from driving the TT. With its low-slung driving position and accurate, responsive steering, the Audi TT transforms even mundane day-to-day trips into exciting excursions. Only the entry-level 1.8-litre turbo petrol doesn’t get the quattro four-wheel drive for extra grip and improved handling, and a clever twin-clutch S tronic automatic gearbox is available as an option, offering quick and smooth gear changes without eating into fuel economy too much. But for speed, the TT RS Plus is the easily most powerful, offering supercar acceleration that is truly exhilarating to experience. Probably the most distinctive element of driving a TT, though, is the sense of being cocooned in a first-rate interior.
Price, value for money & options
You certainly get the car you’re expecting when you buy a TT, but that doesn’t make it cheap. However, resale values on the used car market are very strong for the TT, with it often holding up to nearly 60 per cent of its original value after three years of ownership. It's a sports car to aspire to, so equipment levels are high, with all models across the range coming with part-leather upholstery, alloy wheels, sports seats, and a powerful nine-speaker stereo all fitted as standard. The popular S line spec adds bigger alloy wheels and aluminium interior detailing, but sat-nav remains an expensive option, as is Audi's adaptive suspension system. As with any Audi, the options list is enticing but can quickly add up, so tread carefully but remember you will probably find a good second-hand deal when it comes time to sell.